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Am I too old for grad school?


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Hi,

I am a national of a developing country. I graduated from my Bachelor's degree in business from one of the most prestigious universities in my country in 2004 with a GPA of 3.7.  I graduated with the second highest GPA for our batch, and with honors. Then, I proceeded to law school to get my Juris Doctor. My grades were terrible in law school because my family went through financial troubles and I was distracted.

After law school, I worked for a law firm for 7 years. During my time at the firm, I handled mostly white collar crime investigations and prosecution. Then, I joined the government as advisor to the Inspectorate for 7 months. After that, I landed my dream job in the headquarters of a prestigious international development organization.  I've now been working there for 1 year and 3 months now.

Although my present job is great, I don't think I can move up unless I take up a graduate degree in economics or public policy. Hence, I intend to enroll in a top tier university to take up a master's degree in international relations or public administration.

My top choices are, as follows:

1. Harvard HKS MC/MPA

2. Yale Jackson Institute of Global Affairs M.A. in Global Affairs.

3. Stanford Ford Dorsey Institute.

My questions are, as follows:

1. I wonder what my chances are to get into the aforementioned programs

2. For Harvard and Yale, they tend to distinguish between masters and mid-career masters. I am now 35 years old and have been working for 9 1/2 years. Am I too old for masters yet too young for mid-career masters?

3. For Yales M.A.S. in global affairs , I understand there are no funding opportunities, would there be other external alternatives?

4. I would appreciate any advice or tip regarding increasing my chances of getting into any of these programs.

 

Thanks,

HarveyBear

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I don’t have specific information about the programs you mentioned but wanted to give you hope about your age. I’m 30 and am applying to PhD programs in psychology. 

I think you have outstanding experiences that will serve as an invaluable advantage on your apps. Also, because you’re older, you have a clear understanding of what you’re getting into and clear direction. I think graduate schools and advisors will appreciate this. 

Rooting for you!!

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I don't think I am the right person to perfectly answer your questions but I am applying for public policy master program this year so maybe I can share some of my thoughts :

1. When I was  finding the right programs to apply to I briefly looked into the ones you mentioned ( I am a freelance interpreter and have a master in Translation and Interpreting, zero experiences closely related to policy, so these programs are obviously beyound my reach). Most of them are targeting at mid-career professionals,  people who are at management level in international companies or governments, so I think you are the perfect fit for it.These are really prestigious programs, and you have a good GPA (which doesnt really matter considering your experiences) and rich experiences in the exact field you want to apply for.I think the bigger question is if the program is useful for you.

2. I don't think age is ever a problem when it comes to academics. I read it somewhere on the school websites that the average age for these programs are 26, but I dont think they have a age limit for it. Since most of them require applicants to have 5 + years working experience, JHU  even requires for 7 years working exepriences. Also,  I have a friend who got his MBA from Standford when he was 35, so it is more important to look into their courseworks and choose the one that attracts you the most. 

3. I don't know anything about the funding on Yale's M.A.S. However I think for Standford,  you have to be a Standford student or an alumnus to apply for its master of public policy, or there is another phd program you can apply for (not very certain though).

 

From what I know, public policy/administration focus heavily on applicants' experiences, and from this perspective I think you are a strong candidate. Hope this helps. 

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Hi--40 here. I'm also a lawyer. Finished a masters in history last year. Accepted to 1 PhD program this year, on the waitlist at two others. No rejections yet. You're only too old if you're more worried about security than about doing what you really want to do with the rest of your life--which hopefully will be long and fruitful.  

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Hi. I came to the Grad Cafe a few years ago looking for an answer to this very question. I saw lots of comments about taking a chance even if you are in your 40s but I remember having some difficulty finding any advice on getting into a great program at a great school if you are older.  I was thinking that the older you are the less likely you are to be admitted to the higher ranked schools, but, thankfully I was wrong!! 

Without giving too many specifics, I will say that I got admitted to a top 10 school at least according to the QS ranking (top 15 or so in other rankings). For my program specifically, it was a top 3 school in QS  (other rankings show it between 1-3).

I hope the above inspires others to take a chance and apply. I was 46 when I applied and got accepted so getting in when older IS possible.

I hope this helps others who have the same doubts I had.

Thank you Grad Cafe for inspiring me to take a chance!

 

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On 6/11/2021 at 10:10 PM, mpre2021 said:

Hi. I came to the Grad Cafe a few years ago looking for an answer to this very question. I saw lots of comments about taking a chance even if you are in your 40s but I remember having some difficulty finding any advice on getting into a great program at a great school if you are older.  I was thinking that the older you are the less likely you are to be admitted to the higher ranked schools, but, thankfully I was wrong!! 

Without giving too many specifics, I will say that I got admitted to a top 10 school at least according to the QS ranking (top 15 or so in other rankings). For my program specifically, it was a top 3 school in QS  (other rankings show it between 1-3).

I hope the above inspires others to take a chance and apply. I was 46 when I applied and got accepted so getting in when older IS possible.

I hope this helps others who have the same doubts I had.

Thank you Grad Cafe for inspiring me to take a chance!

 

I'm 51 and submitting applications for PdD school in August. You're never too old! In fact I think some of the Professors I've talked to appreciate people with some life experience.

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definitely not too old! that being said, I would definitely rank the mid-career programs (like the HKS MC/PA) over the programs with cohorts of only 1-3 years work experience (like Yale). it would likely just be a better and more suitable environment for you and you'd find better contacts at the same career level as you.

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